The Intern Diaries: Na'kia Channey

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 6:12pm

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Courtesy of the author

How did you hear about your internship?

The Human Rights Campaign has always been an organization I have wanted to work in, either for an internship or for a career. As for my specific position, I actually didn’t go through the typical application process. I connected through an alum who happened to be the internship manager and she was kind enough to take me into her department! So, for half of my internship, I worked under her as the Pride and Events Intern and as the Outreach and Engagement Intern under a different supervisor.

What made you want to apply?

When I started my sophomore year, I came in with the goal of interning with a major non-profit for summer 2018 and interning with a major corporation for summer 2019. For choosing my non-profit, I wanted to intern for an organization that not only grew me professionally but also broadened my understanding of society and how I operate in it. I identify as a heterosexual cis-gender Black woman, and it has been an informative and transformational experience uncovering the privileges that I have been navigating in my daily life. While I have many thoughts on navigating life as a Black woman, I have not reflected enough on how my more privileged identities, such as my sexual orientation, play an equal role in shaping how I navigate the world. Additionally, I wanted to find more strategic ways to combat homophobia in the Black community as it is still an issue that plagues Black culture.   

What are your favorite memories from your experience?

My favorite experience from my internship was the Washington, D.C. Pride Festival. Under my internship title, my responsibilities included planning and overseeing the logistics of pride festivals all over the nation. It was an amazing experience to be able to see both the behind-the-scenes work behind pride festival participation and the physical, colorful manifestation of months’ work. I had so much fun and I loved being able to enjoy the music, dancing and diverse representation of experiences that are frequently dismissed and ignored during other festival environments.

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Courtesy of the author

What is the culture like where you interned? Any advice for prospective interns interested in non-profits?

Imagine the type of workplace that your high school pushed onto you as an explanation for enforcing the school dress code. Now imagine the opposite. That is the culture at HRC. In the 90-degree heat, HRC prioritized employee comfort over rigid dress code systems. I was able to do my key work responsibilities in shorts and sneakers. I appreciated how HRC trusted their employees to know when to dress up and when to dress down.

The work culture also made sure to prioritize active over passive action. Multiple times my job called for dropping my work and heading to the Supreme Court and the Capitol to protest unjust politics. The work was challenging and emotionally draining, but it is imperative that large organizations such as HRC have an active field experience.

I would encourage anyone who wants to intern at non-profits to utilize (the University of) Michigan’s large alumni network and just reach out yourself! I got this incredible internship by networking on LinkedIn, and if I can do it, anyone else can as well! I would also invite anyone to contact me at any time with any additional questions they have about HRC. I would be so happy to answer.